Tennessee History, Language and Culture

History of Tennessee

Inhabited firstly by the Chickasaw people and then the Cherokee nation, the area called Tennessee first saw Europeans in the form of Spanish explorers led by Hernando de Soto in 1540. More expeditions were held in 1559 by Tristan de Luna and 1567 by Juan Pardo. It was Pardo's recording of the name "Tanasqui" from a local tribal village that has evolved into the state's current name.

Europeans began to flow in over the next few centuries and started complex relationships with the native people. During the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Tennessee, at that point wasn't a state nor had an organised government, saw the land being divided and given to various settlers. After the Revolution, it continued to see conflicts as different groups fought to claim rights to tracts of land, and the disputes only ended in 1796 when Tennessee became the 16th State of the Union.

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Tennessee once again saw further conflicts, this time with Governor Harris siding with the Confederacy while the people in East Tennessee wanted to stay with the Union. Finally, on June 8th, the state voted for secession. The event prompted many Unionists to flee to other states or join the Federal forces. When the Civil War ended in 1865, Tennessee re-joined the Union.

Tennessee today is a prosperous state relying on crop and livestock production.

Tennessee Culture


Tennessee is part of the Bible Belt; hence it is no surprise that most people identify themselves as Christians or Catholics. It is said that there are over 11,000 churches in Tennessee.

Language in Tennessee

English is the main language, and some residents are heavily accented. “Y’all” is an accepted term and country twang is common. There is a very small percentage (almost 3%) that speaks Spanish or Spanish Creole.

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